Libertarians Aren't Like Jeremiah Johnson

"The tear on my mother’s cheek got larger and larger. It detached from her face and became a shiny globe, widening outward like an inflating balloon. At first the tear floated in the air between them, but as it expanded it took my mother and father into itself. I saw them suspended, separate but beginning to slowly drift towards one another. Then my mother looked past my father’s shoulder, looked through the bright skin of the tear, at me. The tear enlarged until at last, it took me in, too. It was warm and salt. As soon as I got used to the strange light inside the tear, I began to swim clumsily towards my parents". ~ Fred Chappell - I Am One of You Forever

I think one of the biggest,instinctive turn-offs to Libertarian thought is the idea that everyone is supposed to be a loner, caring only for himself, indifferent to the needs or concerns of his fellow man.  The most well known writer associated with modern Libertarian thought is Ayn Rand and frankly, many people (myself included) don't really like her selfish industrialists.  Those unappealing characters, compounded with a tendency of some youthful men to identify every expression of concern for one's fellow man as the expression of a collectivist impulse, has given Libertarians a bad name in many quarters.  

Not all Libertarians agree with the objectivist, rationalist views espoused by Rand.  Friedrich Hayek wrote in Individualism: True and False (available at The Mises Institute) true individualism (as opposed to rational individualism) "refute[s] the silliest of the common misunderstandings: the belief that individualism postulates...the existence of isolated or self-contained individuals, instead of starting from men whose whole nature and character is determinated by their existence in society....[When the writers in the 18th century wrote of self love and selfish interests, they] did not mean egotism in the narrow sense of concern with only the immediate needs of one's proper person.  The 'self' for which alone people were supposed to care, did as matter of course include their family and friends."

 

 


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